Best Marketing Tools for a Lean Operation

Concentric Circles

I recently surveyed my community on my Email list and asked them what their marketing and business development priorities were. Their number one question was….

What marketing tools have the most traction for lean operations who don’t have the resources to research and undertake trial and error? What’s the best way to make the transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing?

I’ve summarized the tools and steps in an easy to read reference document.

Click here for an at a glance Cheat Sheet to the process.  

I’m excited about this first one as it was a really good question and made me stop and think. My goal is to provide my readers with excellent value. Please provide me with some feedback and let me know if you found my information helpful.

It’s really a two part question and the answer to the first part seems to naturally lead to the answer of the second part.

What do you think your number one asset is when it comes to marketing and business development? It is your existing client base and network. When I speak about marketing and business development I often speak about concentric circles. Imagine tossing a pebble into a still body of water and it creates a series of circles. The first circle obviously is closest to the pebble, the next is a little further away, the third is that much more further away and so on.

Imagine that each circle represents your target market, the closer they are to you the better your chances are of doing business with them. The easiest way to build business is to work with people who know, like and trust you – those that are in the closest circles. Later I will address the part of the process to bring more new people into those circles.

So when I say closest to you, I don’t mean geographically. I mean metaphorically or aligned with you. They know you, they like you and they trust you ( your brand, your company, your region, your destination). This is where you start.

Then you need to ask yourself, who are these people? Well, they are existing customers for sure, they are other relationships that you have. They are your social media followers. Please share some more ideas with me in the comments section on who they might be…affiliates, prospects, other? Here’s a funny picture of a wine buying concentric circle based on the snow storm that just blasted the east coast of the U.S.


Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 12.40.51 PM


What’s your number one business development asset?

The number one asset you have is your relationships with existing and prospective customers and your social media networks. These people already know, like and trust you.

I believe that the number one tool you have is your customer and prospect database and the number one marketing and business development tool you have available to you is Email marketing. Lean operations who have limited resources should invest in developing their Email list of customers, prospects and leads. There are many tools from which to manage this. I would start with a Google Sheet spread sheet, a Mail Chimp account, a Gmail account and Google GMass account.

You will also need a landing page / landing page tool like Lead Pages / Sumo Me (more on that  later).

Google Sheets because they are free, in the cloud and easy to share which means you can share them if you need people to help with data input, data management, etc. …, they also integrate well with the other Google tools. Mail Chimp because it is a good starter tool (Constant Contact or other tools are fine), is easy to use and it is free to start (depending on your list size). A Gmail account because you are sending emails and it integrates with Google Sheets, GMass as well as Mail Chimp. GMass because it allows you to take your Google Sheets data base and send bulk personalized Emails to your database. GMass seems to be a grey area with the anti spam laws. I am not suggesting that you use GMass to spam. I am suggesting you use it to comply with the laws. You do this by sending a customized Email to your database asking for permission to include them on your Email list (assuming you don’t have permission already). This would make you compliant. If you have permission already you need not worry about this step.

I would start a regular value added communications (not too salesy). I would engage your audience perhaps ask them questions through a survey to make sure you understand their needs and are adding value based on their interests.

I would reach out one on one, through Email or better yet through a phone call to any that you know have a high probability to want to work with you. You can also promote calls to action and offers through your Email communications, etc..

The second thing I would do is invite other’s to get to know you, hopefully like and trust you.

How do you invite people? I would start with paid social media advertising using Facebook in particular. Why Facebook? Facebook is a powerful tool that can help you narrow in on specific target groups and is relatively low cost.

Warm and Cold Traffic Strategies

If you have a Facebook fan page with over 1000 fans, you can target that audience and Facebook can create a look alike audience of your Facebook fans for you to target as well. This allows you to target a broader audience than just your fanbase, these are often very good targets.  You can also download your Email list (including Linked In connections) to Facebook and your ads will be targeted to those folks too. You should also have a Facebook pixel installed on targeted pages on your Website. That way you can retarget (advertise) anybody who has visited a particular page or pages on your Website. This is a warm lead targeting strategy.

Hopefully you have a target market avatar – which basically means you know who your audience is. You know their age range, interests, geography, etc… Facebook allows you to target them too. This is a cold lead targeting strategy. I would do both.

Finally you create a FB ad with a call to action… and test your ad(s). The call to action is to offer your target something of value, in exchange for an Email. You use a landing page tool like Lead Pages or Sumo Me (there are many others), that allows you to capture an Email automatically and puts it on your Mail Chimp account and sends a PDF, video or other value added offer … this builds your Email list, which gives you more people to get to know you, hopefully like and trust you, then ultimately a percentage will buy from you.

The image below says it all. 90% of all sales are made on the 4th to12th contact. This says you need to build a relationship with prospects, leads and customers. The best way to start, build and scale relationship(s) is as described above.


Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 1.13.38 PM


Click here for a pdf cheat sheet for the process outlined above.

That is where I would start. Which I believe answers the second part of the question ….

What’s the best way to make the transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing?

What I am saying is if traditional marketing is advertising in traditional mediums like print, radio, TV, just start making the transition. Appreciate that you have valuable asset(s) that are probably already digitized – like your customer database. You probably already have an Email list and may already be using a service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.

You may or may not send out a newsletter. For those that send out a newsletter take the next step and create a regular value added communication. For those that are not there yet, this is your next step in the transition. This should be pretty straight forward.

Then my suggestion would be to take the leap into paid social media. Learn the fundamentals of FB advertising, (FB will help you or I can help you) and start advertising a value added offer that is relevant for your business and target market. Create the value added offer in the form of a PDF, Video or other digital file and offer it for free in exchange for an Email. Put that Email on your list and make sure they start receiving your regular value added communications. Once you master Facebook, you can move on to Google and other digital mediums.

At some point in time you need to reach out to those prospects on your list individually or broadly and make them an offer to purchase or an offer to take the business relationship to the next level.

That is how I would address this 2-part question.

Thank-you for the excellent question, I hope you found it helpful.

Click here for a pdf cheat sheet for the process outlined above.


Tweet: The 1 #Question I was asked is what are the best #marketing #tools for a lean operation. #answer =

If you liked this article, please share it with somebody who could use the information via Email or your other social media links. If you have other questions you would like answered please send me a message.  If you see room for improvement please share that with me as well.




I work with companies on their marketing, lead generation and sales throughout their life cycle – from start ups, to expansions to exit strategies and the sale of the company. My clients are from the private sector and public sector including economic development and tourism based organizations. Let me know if you have any projects you need help getting started on.

I offer FREE 60 minute strategy sessions to get people started or back on track. For more information Email me or give me a call today.

Is your marketing working the way you would like it to, do you need help, want more leads and more business? Download my 9 Step System for Marketing Success “Cheat Sheet” , the system is designed to get substantial free publicity and new business. This is the exact formula I used to create $150 million in incremental development, 400% growth in tourism, millions of dollars in free publicity (national, regional and local newspaper, magazine & blog articles, radio & tv interviews and programming) more than 10 x my marketing budget and helped to create and a new identity for an old “brand” and community. Don’t let those big numbers scare you. This is a process and a system that is scalable up or down.

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